Republican Carl Paladino Closing In on Cuomo in N.Y. Gubernatorial Race

September 22, 2010 - 10:51 AM

Carl Paladino

Carl Paladino, the New York Republican gubernatorial candidate, answers a reporter's question before speaking at an event in Buffalo, N.Y. on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2010. (AP Photo/Don Heupel)

Albany, N.Y. (AP) - A poll released Wednesday finds long-shot tea party Republican Carl Paladino is closing in on front-running Democrat Andrew Cuomo in the race for New York governor.

Cuomo was expected to get a boost later in the day with the endorsement of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a person familiar with the announcement told The Associated Press. The person insisted on anonymity because the announcement had not been made.

Meanwhile, the head of the state's Conservative party said he and Rick Lazio were discussing whether the former congressman would drop out of the race to consolidate forces behind Paladino, who defeated Lazio in the GOP primary last week. The Conservative line has been important for Republicans running in the heavily Democratic state.

The Quinnipiac University polls showed Cuomo with a 49 percent to 43 percent lead among likely New York voters. Seven percent were undecided. Lazio was not included in the poll.

"The question was whether Carl Paladino would get a bounce from his big Republican primary victory. The answer is yes," said Quinnipiac polling Director Maurice Carroll. "He's within shouting distance and -- you can count on it -- he will be shouting."

The poll found the straight-talking Buffalo developer had 54 percent of the support of women voters to Cuomo's 34 percent. Men supported Cuomo, the one-term attorney general, 49 percent to 46 percent.

Paladino has sought to ride a wave of voter anger at Albany's high taxes, high spending and string of corruption cases in state government, all of which is controlled by Democrats.

"Attorney General Andrew Cuomo might be a victim of his own excess," Carroll said. "Politicians and polls have depicted him so relentlessly as a sure thing that he might be a victim of the 'throw the bums out' attitude that hits incumbents in this angry year."

Quinnipiac found that the largest share of those polled -- 41 percent -- said the most important quality in a candidate is the ability to bring change. Just two in 10 felt a candidate needs to share their values and about the same felt honesty was a top quality.

Paladino is a tea party-supported Republican who shocked the GOP by winning the primary over Lazio, the party's designee.

Carroll said Paladino's support is boosted by conservative voters and those who are motivated to vote in November.

Lazio won the support of the Conservative Party in May, but is now undecided about whether he will keep his spot on the November ballot. Party Chairman Michael Long said he and Lazio planned to talk about it more Wednesday.

If the Lazio were to drop out, the Conservative Party could replace him on the November ballot, Long said. The party needs to attract 50,000 votes to maintain its automatic ballot line and the influence on New York politics that it brings.

In previous polls of registered voters, rather than Wednesday's poll of likely voters, Cuomo has held a better than 2-to-1 edge. Cuomo also has more than $20 million in his campaign account as of the latest filings last summer, although Paladino -- a millionaire -- is now starting to raise cash to add to the more than $10 million of his own money he has pledged to spend.

The poll questioned 751 likely voters from last Thursday 16 to Monday. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

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Associated Press Writer Sara Kugler Frazier contributed to this report from New York.